Songs recall familiar feelings, emotions, and memories. Jacob Banks transmits comfort from this familiarity. The Nigerian-born and London-based singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist allows a flood of thoughts, perspectives, and inspirations to flow through his music. After generating nearly 200 million streams and receiving praise from NPR, Vibe, Coveteur, and Wonderland Magazine, he further polishes and perfects this approach on his 2021 For My Friends EP (Interscope Records).
“For me, songwriting feels more like remembering a song,” he explains. “I’m trying to remember a vague dream. The song already exists. I just need to be present enough to pull it out of the sky. Nothing is truly new. We’re trying to tell old stories in new ways. Every sound, sample, kick, and snare has been used, but you can put your own little twist on them. Whoever has the best memory wins,” he smiles.
Jacob first put his own twist on soul, R&B, and alternative with a series of independent EPs. His 2018 full-length debut, Village, garnered widespread critical acclaim. OnesToWatch dubbed it, “[his] most introspective work to date,” and The Guardian claimed, “his command of blues grit and electronic spell-casting is borderless.” It yielded anthems such as “Unknown (To You)” and “Chainsmoking” and landed on VIBE’s “30 Best Albums of 2018” list. In addition to headlining sold-out shows on multiple continents, he delivered electrifying performances at Coachella, SXSW, Austin City Limits, and Lollapalooza and opened for the likes of Emeli Sandé, Sam Smith, and Alicia Keys. He delivered standout sets on television shows such as Jimmy Kimmel LIVE!, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Later… with Jools Holland. Not to mention, he landed music in The Equalizer 2, Lucifer, Suits, and Game of Thrones, to name a few.
Returning from the road as society went into Lockdown at the top of 2020, he sequestered himself at his place in London and turned his sights on a new chapter. For the first time, he created and recorded at home under the watchful eye of his two cats. He worked with longtime collaborator Sillky through the wire as well as Jonah Christian in Los Angeles and Dani Young in Australia.
The result, For My Friends, a collection of thoughts and stories of love, loss, and our troubled society, all underpinned by the sense that it will be okay. “I just want to keep people company,” he leaves off. “Millions of us feel alone but have survived. You will too. I hope you know you have a friend in me. I want you to be seen and heard.” In the end, For My Friends reminds the world of a story it needs to hear.